|KBJR: Superior, Wisconsin/
KRII: Chisholm, Minnesota
|Branding||general: KBJR 6 & Range 11
newscasts: KBJR 6 & Range 11 News
.2: My 9
.2 news: Northland's NewsCenter
KBJR: 19 (UHF)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
KRII: 11 (VHF)
Virtual: 11 (PSIP)
|Subchannels||6.1 1080i 16:9 KBJR6
6.2 480i 16:9
11.1 720p 16:9 RANGE11
11.2 480i 16:9 CW2
11.3 480i 16:9 KDLH3
11.9 480i 16:9 MY9
|Affiliations||6.1 NBC .2 MNT
11.1 NBC .2 CW .3 CBS .9 MNT
|Owner||Granite Broadcasting Corporation
(sale to Quincy Newspapers pending)
(KBJR: KBJR License, Inc.)
(KRII: Channel 11 License, Inc.)
|First air date||KBJR: March 1, 1954
KRII: November 27, 2002
|Call letters' meaning||KBJR: Keeping Business, Jobs, and Recreation in Duluth
KRII: Range II (11)
|Former callsigns||WDSM-TV (1954-1974)|
|Former channel number(s)||6 (VHF analog, 1954-2009)|
|Former affiliations||CBS (1954-1955)
ABC (secondary, 1954-1966)
NBC WX+ (on DT3)
|Transmitter power||KBJR: 384 kW
KRII: 63 kW
|Height||KBJR: 311.9 m
KRII: 200.4 m
|Facility ID||KBJR: 33658
KBJR-TV is the NBC-affiliated television station for Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin that is licensed to Superior, Wisconsin. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 19 from a transmitter west of Downtown Duluth in Hilltop Park. Its studios are located on South Lake Avenue in Canal Park, downtown Duluth.
Owned by the Granite Broadcasting Corporation, the station operates CBS affiliate KDLH (owned by the Malara Broadcast Group) through a local marketing agreement (a.k.a. LMA). Syndicated programing on KBJR includes: Wheel of Fortune, Inside Edition, Judge Judy and Dr. Phil.
KRII (Range 11), ATSC channel 11 in Chisholm operates as a semi-satellite and has a bureau on East Howard Street in Hibbing. KRII serves the northern portion of the market, including the Iron Range area, Grand Rapids and International Falls. Although it identifies as a station in its own right, it is considered a semi-satellite of sister station KBJR in Duluth. This station simulcasts KBJR except during commercials and station identifications. Master control and internal operations of KRII are based at KBJR's facilities on South Lake Avenue in Duluth. It also acts as a full-power translator station of all of the various channels and subchannels of KBJR and KDLH. In terms of coverage, KRII serves the northern portion of the Duluth market while KBJR serves the southern.
It is the area's MyNetworkTV affiliated station with Northland's NewsCenter on a second digital subchannel of KBJR. Known on-air as My 9, it is carried on Charter cable channel 9 (hence the branding). This can also be seen on KRII's ninth digital subchannel from a transmitter in Meadow Brook.
In addition to the main signal, KBJR or KRII can be seen on several translators in northern Minnesota. All broadcast in digital.
|Call sign||Channel||City of license||Licensee||Transmitter location|
|K18JM-D||18||Northome||Koochiching County||south of Orth|
|K23KZ-D||23||Bigfork / Marcell||EZ-TV, Inc.||south of Bigfork along MN 38|
|K27LL-D||27||Big Falls||Koochiching County||east of the city|
|K34LJ-D||34||Kabetogama||Koochiching County||between Koochiching County line and U.S. 53 in Saint Louis County|
|K38MJ-D||38||Max||EZ-TV, Inc.||southwest of town|
|K42KV-D||42||Birchdale||Koochiching County||southwest of Loman|
|K47NW-D||47||International Falls||Koochiching County||southeast of city|
|K51LN-D||51||Red Lake||Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians||southwest of city along MN 89|
The station began on March 1, 1954 known as WDSM-TV and was affiliated with CBS. It was owned by Ridder Newspapers, owner of the Duluth Herald (now part of the Duluth News Tribune), along with WDSM-AM 710. WDSM was the first VHF television station in Duluth, signing-on days before KDAL-TV (now KDLH). In October 1955, the station switched affiliations with KDAL and became an NBC affiliate. It began local color broadcasts in November 1965. It also aired some ABC programs, sharing them with KDAL, until WDIO-TV signed-on in 1966.
Ridder merged with Knight Newspapers in 1974 to form Knight Ridder. However, the merged company was not allowed to keep the WDSM stations. It was grandfathered under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules forbidding common ownership of newspapers and broadcasting outlets. The FCC considered the Knight-Ridder merger to be an ownership change, and as a result, the WDSM stations lost their grandfathered protection. The television station was spun-off to RJR Communications in the fall of that year. On December 6, the call letters were changed to the current "KBJR-TV". Channel 6 is one of the few stations in the country whose call sign begins with "K" despite being licensed to a city east of the Mississippi River. However, its studios have long been located in Duluth.
Current owner Granite acquired KBJR at the end of October 1988 making it one of the company's earliest acquisitions. In March 2005, the Malara Broadcast Group purchased KDLH from New Vision Television and outsourced most of that station's functions to KBJR.
Under this agreement, KDLH laid off most of its staff, and KBJR began to handle nearly all of channel 3's operations. Filings with the FCC showed Malara could operate KDLH with as few as two people on the payroll.
On January 24, 2006, The WB and UPN announced that they would cease broadcasting and launch a combined network The CW. On February 22, News Corporation announced that it would start up another new broadcast television network called MyNetworkTV. KDLH operated the area's cable-only WB affiliate, "KWBD", which was part of The WB 100+. Area access to UPN was offered in two ways. KBJR operated an affiliate known on-air as "Northland's UPN" and later "UPN 9" (based on its Charter channel location) on its second digital subchannel. This was also available over-the-air in Ashland, Wisconsin on WAST-LP which was an over-the-air, low-powered semi-satellite of the digital subchannel. WAST was owned by a separate entity from KBJR.
At some point in time, it was announced that KDLH would carry The CW on a new second digital subchannel as part of The CW Plus which would be simulcasted on "KWBD". That service would be a similar operation to The WB 100+. It was later announced that "UPN 9" would become an independent station known as "Northland's 9" complete with new logo and graphics. In March 2006, it was made public that KBJR-DT2 would become an affiliate of MyNetworkTV. In July ahead of the launch of the network, "Northland 9" became known as "My 9" while WAST was shut down in August. MyNetworkTV began broadcasting on September 5 while "KWBD" began broadcasting The CW on September 18. On that date, that station officially started using the KDLH-DT2 call sign.
KBJR, along with WDIO and KQDS-TV, terminated analog broadcasts on February 17, 2009—the date originally mandated by the FCC to switch to digital. KDLH waited until the new date of June 12 to become digital exclusive. On April 5, 2010, KBJR and KRII re-branded their look introducing new graphics and a new logo combining the branding with "Range 11". The stations also reverted to their pre-NewsCenter slogan, "In Touch". The stylized 6 was phased out after twenty years.
On February 11, 2014, Quincy Newspapers announced it has reached a deal to purchase KBJR-TV and its satellite KRII, along with WEEK-TV in Peoria, Illinois and WBNG-TV in Binghamton, New York, from Granite (the deal also included the outright purchase of WPTA in Fort Wayne, Indiana from the Malara Broadcast Group). The license for Malara-owned KDLH will be sold to SagamoreHill Broadcasting; however, KBJR will continue to operate KDLH through a shared services agreement.
KRII signed-on for the first time on November 27, 2002 as a semi-satellite of KBJR. It was originally licensed to International Falls but was changed to Chisholm, which is closer to Duluth, before signing-on. It was granted an original construction permit after the Federal Communications Commission finalized the DTV allotment plan on April 21, 1997. As a result, it did not receive a companion channel for a digital television station. Instead on January 6, 2009 over a month before the end of the digital television conversion period for full-service stations, KRII turned-off its analog signal and turned on its digital signal (an action called a "flash-cut"). After shutting-off analog broadcasts, KRII began multi-casting programming on digital subchannels. Its bureau is home to a reporter who contributes Iron Range coverage to the KBJR and KDLH news broadcasts.
1997 studio fire
On December 14, 1997, KBJR's studios were destroyed in a fire late that evening. It left the air temporarily but managed to get back on-the-air the next morning cobbling together a makeshift workspace at its transmitter building. Two days later, the news operation moved in with PBS affiliate WDSE and sales and business operations moved to open office space at the U.S. Bank building in Downtown Duluth while master control remained at the transmitter. In June 1999, it relocated to its current location in Canal Park.
Winter transmitter and production difficulties
In April 1999, a spring ice storm swept through Duluth. The heavy accumulation of ice severely damaged KBJR's transmitting tower and, as the melting ice started falling off the tower, large ice chunks broke through the roof of the transmitter building flooding it with water and damaging much of the equipment inside. Master control operations were moved again using a temporary transmitter on WDIO's tower while KBJR's own tower and transmitter were replaced.
On April 11, 2008, a blizzard swept through the area. Winds over 50 miles per hour, and heavy, wet snow caused power outages in Duluth which caused KBJR, KDLH, and WDIO to lose their signals at times. Weekday morning anchor Dan Hanger was on the air live from 5 until 9. At times, he and meteorologist Shannon Murphy were in the dark but were able to broadcast audio. By late morning when KBJR returned to the air, Barbara Reyelts and George Kessler anchored nonstop using a newsroom setup with one microphone and one camera. By Noon, KDLH anchor Pat Kelly was reporting from outside the studios. Also, any phone interviews were done through a cell phone by holding a microphone up to the speaker of the cell phone.
Christmas City of the North Parade
Each November on the Friday before Thanksgiving, Northland's NewsCenter puts on a parade in downtown Duluth called the "Christmas City of the North Parade". It is broadcast live on KBJR and streamed live on its website. In recent years, the parade also has been replayed numerous times on the networks of Northland's NewsCenter in the weeks and days before Christmas. According to this station, the parade dates back to 1958 when KBJR (then WDSM) started the event as a way to kick off the holiday shopping season in the area.
It has been held every year since except in 1963 when the event was canceled following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the early 1960s, the station commissioned Merv Griffin to produce a song especially for the parade. The "Christmas City Song" has been used for the parade every year and also has been the closing music for all Northland's NewsCenter newscasts from Thanksgiving until Christmas. In 2006, Barbara Reyelts, Mark Mallory, Michelle Lee, and Pat Kelly anchored the parade. 2008 marked the 50th anniversary of the parade. It was hosted by Michelle Lee, George Kessler, and Barbara Reyelts. The pacer car was driven by Shannon Murphy, Dave Anderson, and Kevin Jacobsen.
While operating its own news department, KDLH was the last of the big three stations in Duluth to have a weeknight 5 o'clock broadcast. It aired Judge Judy in the time slot instead. In 2004, it debuted a 5 p.m. show that featured anchor Amy Rutledge and meteorologist Phil Johnson. This was replaced along with its 6 o'clock show with the current one at 5:30 when KDLH merged with KBJR in March 2005. Judge Judy has since reclaimed the 5 o'clock spot on that channel and the CBS Evening News airs at 6. After the KDLH buyout, that station had its news department closed and merged with KBJR. To maintain a separate identity, there were some personalities on this channel that were also seen on KDLH. However, due to KBJR's existing newscasts not all of this station's personnel were seen on that station. More recently, the news teams of both stations have been downsized.
Currently, KDLH's weekday morning show is known as KDLH 3 Morning Plus and is essentially a simulcast of the second hour of KBJR's morning show, KBJR 6 and Range 11 News Today. Originally, KDLH had aired a separate ninety minute broadcast before being dropped in favor of a ninety minute simulcast of KBJR. KDLH's Northland's NewsCenter at 5:30 had been anchored by Pat Kelly who was the only news team member remaining after the KDLH sellout. Its weeknight 10 o'clock newscast, which continues to be a separate production, was known as Northland's NewsCenter Express and consisted of a ten minute news "capsule". The other 25 minutes was a Seinfeld rerun. After thirteen months of mediocre ratings, KDLH changed its 10 o'clock show to the traditional 35 minutes and re-branded it to Northland's NewsCenter Tonight. On Sunday nights at 10, there continues to be a ten minute Northland's NewsCenter Express update followed by a Judge Judy rerun. Otherwise, there are no weekend newscasts on KDLH. Saturday nights at 10, there is a local sports highlight show that airs on that channel known as Sports Zone.
As part of its schedule, KBJR-DT2 "My 9" offers several newscasts. This includes a simulcast of the first hour of the weekday morning show and a re-airing of the second hour at 7. There is a simulcast of KBJR's Noon and weeknight 5 o'clock broadcasts. Weeknights at 9, the channel airs a live newscast (known as Northland's NewsCenter Tonight at 9) that had been simulcasted on KDLH-DT2 "Northland CW 2" but was dropped. This competes with Fox affiliate KQDS. Finally, KBJR-DT2 re-airs the main channel's 10 o'clock show early the next morning.
Until its shut down in late-December 2008, KBJR offered NBC Weather Plus with local inserts on a third digital subchannel and Charter digital channel 391. When the national service ended, KBJR-DT3 became part of NBC Plus which featured a computer-updated loop of regional satellite/radar images, current weather conditions and temperatures, and daily forecasts. A new forth digital subchannel was created featuring news and weather updated and the "L-Bar" that is a remnant of the former NBC Weather Plus service. This was known on-air as "Northand's NewsCenter Now" and can also be seen on KRII's forth digital subchannel. KBJR-DT3 eventually became vacant. KBJR-DT4 and KRII-DT4 has since become part of The Local AccuWeather Channel known as "Weather Now".
KBJR, KRII, and KDLH began broadcasting their local newscasts in 16x9 widescreen on May 4, 2009. They were the first television stations in the market to do so. Although not true high definition, the format matches the ratio of HD television screens. As of November, KDLH began to brand its separate weeknight shows as KDLH 3 News which air from a secondary set. That station continues to use the Northland's NewsCenter branding when simulcasting KBJR's newscasts. On January 11, 2010, KDLH starting airing the area's only weeknight 6:30 newscast.
On March 14, 2013, longtime sports anchor Tom Hansen announced his retirement from the station after 28 years. Hansen came to KBJR in 1989 from WDSM as the weekend weather reporter and became sports director in 1991. He cited family as his main reason for the departure and announced that he had accepted a new job at his alma mater University of Wisconsin Superior. His last report is scheduled for March 29.
Notable former staff
- Ted Rowlands reporter; now at CNN
- Jane Skinner - political correspondent, now at Fox News Channel
- Rob Stafford - later correspondent for Dateline NBC and now at WMAQ-TV
- UPN and WB to Combine, Forming New TV Network, The New York Times, January 24, 2006.
- News Corp. Unveils MyNetworkTV, Broadcasting & Cable, February 22, 2006.
- "Quincy Buying Stations From Granite, Malara". TVNewsCheck. February 11, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
- "FCC 398 Children's Television Programming Report". KidVid Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. November 15, 2005. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
- "Ted Rowlands bio". CNN. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- NorthlandsNewsCenter.com - Official Website
- Rabbitears.info Query - KBJR
- Rabbitears.info Query - KRII
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KBJR-TV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KRII
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K18JM-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K23KZ-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K27LL-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K34LJ-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K38MJ-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K42KV-D
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K53CQ-D